Nine foreign tourists who were detained in northern China this month after the police accused them of watching illegal videos in their hotel have been allowed to return to their home countries, according to the South African government and an aid group that worked for their release.
The tourists — five South Africans, three Britons and an Indian — were expected to fly out of Ordos, in the Inner Mongolia region, on Saturday, following 11 fellow travelers who had been freed earlier.
Their eight-day detention prompted an international outcry — and a great deal of head -scratching — after the police seized the group at the airport in Ordos, claiming that some of the travelers had been watching “terrorist propaganda videos” in their rooms at the Crowne Plaza Ordos. The tourists, among them medical doctors, corporate executives and a former anti-apartheid activist, were on a 47-day luxury tour of China.
No charges were filed, but as recently as Thursday an official with the Ordos Foreign Affairs Office insisted that the accused had been “watching and spreading violent terrorist videos,” though he offered no details.